from the thanksgiven dept
Five Years Ago
The parade of horrors from the TSA continued this week, as the world continued reacting to the new enhanced security processes. One man stripped down in an attempt to avoid being groped and ended up under arrest for failing to complete the security process, while a botched pat-down left another passenger covered in urine from a broken urostomy bag. President Obama took a trip with the CEO of the company that makes the naked scanners and soon after defended the scans, while people trying to find out if the TSA had ever successfully stopped a terrorist were rebuffed in the name of national security. It was clear that the rollout of the new scanners was rushed, leaving the whole process limited in its effectiveness, but that didn’t stop newspapers from snidely mocking objections to the TSA or the San Diego Airport from saying that recording the groping procedure is an arrestible offence. The TSA was even making people go through the process after their flights, but their demonstration of the groping in congress seemed to backfire, and they couldn’t even keep a loaded gun magazine from being left on a plane and found by a child. The TSA’s overall failure all stemmed from the same issue: the myth of perfect security.
Ten Years Ago
The fallout from the Sony rootkit fiasco was dying down this week in 2005, but it wasn’t over. Texas’ attorney general sued the company while the numbers showed that infected Sony CDs took a significant sales hit. One anti-virus firm came out to dispel notions that it might have colluded with Sony by explaining why it was unable to detect the rootkit sooner, and we asked a critical question: can any business based on copy protection survive?
TiVo apparently thought so, as it was expanding its offerings of content on iPods and PSPs at the cost of more robust DRM and content controls. This was a precautionary measure that didn’t seem to work, as TV executives almost immediately began threatening to sue. Another new company was simply begging to be sued (though it’s a shame that’s the case) by selling iPods with preloaded video ripped from simultaneously purchased DVDs.
iTunes also hit an interesting milestone: it surpassed Tower Records in sales.
Fifteen Years Ago
I highlighted that last point because five years earlier, almost to the day, a study predicted that MP3s would replace CDs within five years. Of course there’s lots to debate about what exactly iTunes’ sales milestone meant, and what “replacing” CDs means, and so on — but it is still delightfully prophetic on the surface.
The ASIMO robot is an ongoing project that is widely known today, but it was this week in 2000 that Honda first unveiled it. Around the same time, the first self-contained bionic hand was completed in the UK. Carmakers were experimenting with driver-assisting cameras and, less glamorously, hotels were using technology to automate and secure their minibars.
Oh, and Amazon got knocked offline on Black Friday, which is some very unlucky timing.
Twenty-Eight Years Ago
Last week, we highlighted a famous authorized (but unfortunate) interruption of a broadcast signal. This week, we’ve got the anniversary of what is probably the most famous unauthorized intervention on the airwaves. It was on November 22nd, 1987 that a still-unidentified person dressed as Max Headroom hijacked two Chicago television stations for no immediately obvious reasons. To this day, it remains a minor mystery.